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Investigators: Daunting Task To Find Cause Of San Francisco Mission Bay Fire

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Crews began tearing down a massive fire-damaged structure in Mission Bay on March 12, 2014. (CBS)

Crews began tearing down a massive fire-damaged structure in Mission Bay on March 12, 2014. (CBS)

HollyQuan20100908_KCBS_0017r Holly Quan
Holly was born and raised in Oakland and she graduated from San...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — San Francisco fire crews were on scene Thursday at the site of Tuesday’s massive apartment-complex fire in Mission Bay as they attempt to stabilize what’s left of the structure so arson investigators can get inside. Meanwhile, nearby residents may not be able to return their homes for several more days.

Investigators already know there was welding work taking place at the fire’s point of origin. Construction workers building the 172-unit project reported that already, but there has been no official cause attributed to Tuesday inferno.

On Thursday, investigators still could not gain full access to the structure, nearly 48 hours after the fire began. Crews were removing bits of debris piece-by-piece, working to stabilize what’s left of the structure.

“We have all of our ladder pipes in place. We’ve been periodically going up and checking for hot spots, seeing if anything is burning as the construction crews are dismantling the buildings,” said San Francisco Fire Battalion Chief Michael Thompson.

Thompson said that it will take a long time to sift through what’s left but he said the evidence is there.

“The biggest problem right now would be finding the top floor because we don’t know where it is. If you look at how the thing collapsed and [how] everything has fallen into the building, so they’ll be able to piece by looking at charring.” he said. “It’s not an exact science and it very time consuming…but right now, when your top is now three floors lower than it was, that sort of hinders you.”

The fire department is scaling back its crews down to two ladder trucks to keep an eye on hotspots and demolition crews knock down the shaky structure and debris.

Meanwhile, the five-alarm fire displaced hundreds of people who live in adjacent Mission Bay apartments and most have no idea when they will be allowed to return.

Suzy Ross, who lives in the Strata apartment complex directly across the street from the gutted structure, said she had not been told just how long that she will have to find other accommodations.

Ross, a tech worker, said she knows that she’s better off than some of her neighbors.

“Our unit is fine, which is good. The units facing the building with the windows—those all got blown out I heard,” she said. “It’s a good thing ours is in the courtyard, so we are completely on the opposite side. We got lucky.”

She said her building has 197 units and almost the residents were able to find housing on their own.

Read More:
Building Destroyed In San Francisco Mission Bay Fire Knocked Down
Mission Bay Project Called Total Loss After Fire
Destroyed Apartment Units Would Have Been Sold For $630,000
Matier: Scar Left On Developing Neighborhood
Embers From Fire Spreads To Roof At UCSF
Mission Bay Fire Brings Back Memories Of Santana Row Blaze
How Firefighters Battled A Fully Engulfed Six-Story Building Fire

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